Translating barristers’ language

The Secret Barrister tries to help a work experience student understand criminal court proceedings at Translating barrister-speak: A beginner’s guide.

For example, ‘My client has had the benefit of robust advice’ translates as ‘I have told the stupid dildo REPEATEDLY how utterly rubber ducked he is’.

Legal cheek decodes what a supervisor says to a supervisee.

For example, the supervisor says ‘I hear what you say’, the supervisee understands ‘He accepts my point of view’, but the supervisor means ‘I entirely disagree and do not want to discuss it further’.

This does ring very true.

Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast 2015


Who goes to the Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast?


I did not spot Michael Gove. The justices of the Supreme Court OK, then the High Court judges in partly red dress, the circuit judges in partly lavender. Then come some in black. I suppose some are recorders. Opinions are put forward in the crowd – for example, one man said ‘if they have the long wigs, they are judges, if not, they aren’t yet’. Or do not all judges buy the full-bottomed ones, or recorders not wear them? And who are those in long red robes? and are there mere barristers? Some of the people are what are known as wives.



At Stanley Ley’s site you can see the full-bottomed wig, the judge’s bench wig, and the barrister’s wig.

Joshua Rozenberg wrote that though 1,000 go to the service, only about half are invited to the breakfast. This explains the more plainly clad persons heading off to the right.

Who are these?


And these?


I think there must have been academics there in academic gowns, and also clerics.

LATER NOTE: At gettyimages are some pictures of judges in new robes in October 2008.
Here is a description in words.

The ones with blue bits are district judges – they would not be wearing wigs in open court.

And Wikipedia says:

On special ceremonial occasions (such as the opening of the legal year), QCs wear (in addition to their court coat, waistcoat and silk gown) a long wig, black breeches, silk stockings and buckled shoes, lace cuffs and a lace jabot instead of bands.

I didn’t realize QCs wear long-bottomed wigs. So the ones in the top pictures are QCs.


There is something about the service on the Westminster Abbey site. They also have a series of photos including one of Michael Gove reading a lesson. But some of the Supreme Court justices weren’t wearing wigs either (they don’t when they’re sitting).


I do miss the chances I had in Germany of going on guided mushroom-collecting walks. They have some here in Havering but I doubt the woods are so exciting. And there was also the Naturhistorische Gesellschaft Nürnberg e.V. with Ursula Hirschmann, where you could sit in the lecture hall and all sorts of poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms were passed round. I remember woods whose floors were covered in deep moss studded with the most various mushrooms, which I largely did not dare eat. There is a system where people qualify as mushroom/toadstool experts and a list of people to contact to inspect your day’s collection. I had my basket, knife and brush, and a mushroom app, but I was cruelly torn out of it.

This might have helped some of the Syrians et al. who have been trying the death cap mushroom (Knollenblätterpilz) recently. That was usually the first one we looked at and learned. The Washington Post reports:

According to a warning issued by Hanover Medical School in northern Germany, more than 30 refugees have been sickened after eating “death cap” mushrooms — a species so toxic a small amount of it can cause organ failure in a matter of days.

Die Zeit has a nice map of treated cases of mushroom poisoning from 2008 to 2013 (most survived).

Guardian: Germany attributes spike in mushroom poisonings to foraging refugees

Berlin police @PolizeiBerlin_E now competing with @SolihullPolice

Berlin police tweet at @PolizeiBerlin and @PolizeiBerlin_E (Einsatz). They used the hashtag #pickpocket to clear up some cases. Presumably there are more speakers of English than German in Berlin nowadays. Aufklärungsgezwitscher in B.Z.

Thanks to Trevor.

Also check out Solihull Police best tweets. E.g.

Not a scam: If you’ve committed a burglary in the Solihull area within the last week – come to our police station & claim a FREE iPad.

Lidl: Taste of the Alps

Since yesterday Lidl has had this range available: Lidl: Taste of the Alps.


Upminster is Aldi country rather than Lidl country, although Lidl has been going through a process of gentrification (it’s in the news for paying all its workers in the UK above the minimum wage) and I am urged to get some of their wine offers, but have not yet made it to South Ockendon.

I don’t suppose the web page will be available for ever. It is fuller than what you read in the Evening Standard or see in the video. But it is amazing how far the Alps extend. Who would have thought of the alpine pig in pork schnitzel, to say nothing of Bismarck herrings? Some are labelled Alpengut, which I keep reading as Alpenglut. Kabanos must be from the Polish Alps. Bavarian Brie is less surprising. But what of Meadow Fresh potato salad?

Is there a spelling mistake on Ian Paisley’s gravestone?

Is there a spelling mistake on Ian Paisley’s gravestone? ask The Irish News. Honorable is really the American spelling. I wonder if this will be followed up?

Further examples are given for Jimmy Savile, Elvis Presley and Isaac Bashevis Singer.

More weight to the argument one should die without a memorial.

It seems Cervantes had the same problem.

In fact it seems common. Although spelling mistakes on tombstones are often referred to as typos, there is no Tippex (is that a Germanism?) to remove them. Here’s how to deal with them.

Lang & Rahmann Rechtsanwälte Newsletter

I recently received a newsletter from Lang & Rahmann Rechtsanwälte in Düsseldorf. I don’t know how you can get it, but I suspect you write to, which is given as the email address to unsubscribe. But in fact the newsletter consists of links to texts on the firm’s website, so if you go straight to the website you can read summaries of a number of recent cases in German, French and English. One of the lawyers at the firm is Dr. Stephan Kettler, who has published bilingual legal dictionaries and is a certified translator and interpreter for English and French. I use his Wörterbuch Gewerblicher Rechtsschutz und Urheberrecht: Englisch-Deutsch / Deutsch-Englisch, 2011 alongside Uexküll (Wörterbuch der Patent- und Markenpraxis). It’s great to have both.
There must have been more than one person working on the English texts. I did wonder about the translation of Schwarzarbeit as black labour, but then I read recently that consideration has been given to having James Bond played by a black actor, so it must be OK.

I see they use Federal Supreme Court for Bundesgerichtshof, which I’ve commented on before. But they always give the German name the first time around, so that is good. They have, I think, an American touch (Sect., docket) and they capitalize Plaintiff, which is not usual in this kind of text. I was also intrigued by the reference to the preponement of a flight – this is apparently well established in Indian English though. I intend to use it myself whenever I can from now on.

Start your interpreting career in an Austrian prison

Ausländische Gefangene in österreichischen Justizanstalten und Polizeianhaltezentren (PDF) (the work of a multinational group) gives some information on the various forms of imprisonment you might enjoy in Austria: Verwahrungshaft, Untersuchungshaft, Strafhaft, Unterbringung im Maßnahmenvollzug, Verwaltungsstrafhaft, polizeiliche Haft, fremdenpolizeiliche Haft.

Fair Trials (via Prisoners Abroad) tells you what’s what if you’re imprisoned in Austria, but it doesn’t tell you you might find yourself acting as an interpreter for other speakers of your language.

Verbesserungsbedarf gibt es vor allem im Bereich der Kommunikation. Das Sprachproblem ist in Gerichtlichen Gefangenenhäusern viel größer als in Strafvollzugsanstalten, wo Insassen meist erst hinkommen, nachdem sie bereits einige Zeit im Gefängnissystem verbracht haben. Vor allem mit Leuten aus dem osteuropäischen und ex-sowjetischen Raum gibt es oft keine gemeinsame Sprache, was Misstrauen, Ängste und Unverständnis erzeugt. Manche Beamte differenzieren wenig und bezeichnen Moldawier, Tschetschenen, Georgier, Armenier, etc. pauschal als „die Russen“, eine Gruppe, der zahlreiche negative Eigenschaften zugeschrieben werden.
Auf Dolmetscher wird im Alltag nicht zurückgegriffen, das sei zu aufwendig und teuer. Meist übersetzten andere Insassen oder Justizpersonal. Sogar bei Ordnungsstrafverfahren wird kaum je ein professioneller Dolmetscher eingesetzt.

An article in Heute, Justiz setzt Häftlinge im Häf’n als Dolmetscher ein, gives examples from a prison in Styria – the photo shows the prison governor. One of the interpreters is a member of the Pink Panther jewel thieves gang.


German Law Archive new site

The German Law Archive at Oxford University has moved to a new site, which was launched on August 6 2015. I was forwarded to it for a specific statute from the Centre for German Legal Information.

After a period in which we had allowed both content and design to collect dust, we are pleased to welcome our users to our new design, launched on 6 August 2015. We hope you will find it more user friendly. We will now work on an update of content. Feedback to the editors (see below) is welcome!

The site is still run by Gerhard Dannemann, now with Christoph König as assistant editor.